What Hi Fi Sound and Vision Tue, 30 Apr 2013, 3:24pm

Orbitsound M9

Tested at £300
80100
4

The Orbitsound M9 presents a strong case thanks to its size, flexibility and well-balanced sound

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For

  • Compact design
  • Perfectly listenable
  • Good integration
  • Bluetooth connectivity

Against

  • No HDMI inputs
  • Lacks scale compared to the bigger soundbars

The Orbitsound M9 soundbar looks more like a sound block. At only 30cm wide, the compact speaker sits over a fraction of a TV stand compared to the sprawl of many rivals.

It's also relatively short; but don’t succumb to sizeism. If anything, the Orbitsound M9's small frame should enhance its appeal: soundbars don’t have to spread the width of a vulture’s wingspan to sound effective.

Orbitsound M9 review: set-up

You don’t have to worry whether your shelves are wide enough to accommodate the main speaker and it shouldn’t obstruct the TV screen.

We don’t think the Orbitsound M9 looks out of place with small screens all the way up to 40-46in models. Anything larger and it does look a little dwarfed, but that’s entirely personal preference of course.

MORE: Best TV soundbars

This flexibility and versatility of this soundbar continues with Orbitsound’s slender wireless subwoofer. Again the discreet dimensions make for a unit that’s a little easier to accommodate around dedicated rack.

You could even slide it away out of site – Orbitsound claims a range of around eight metres, but we’d always recommend using it in close proximity to the main speaker.

Orbitsound M9

The main soundbar unit features five drivers: three fire outwards, including one 20mm tweeter, while two 5cm units fire sideways. These side speakers combine with sound processing, to produce Orbitsound’s SST (Spacial Sound Technology) which claims to help radiate sound all around your room.

In practice there’s a decent sense of width and openess to the sound – you can hear it trying to fling sound effects far and wide. But, as with many processing technologies, don’t be fooled into thinking the M9 is any kind of substitute for proper surround sound.

Orbitsound M9 review: connections

Inputs border on the basic: there’s a single optical digital input (we’d prefer to see two for additional sources and possibly HDMI connectivity), a pair of stereo RCA connections and a 3.5mm auxiliary input.

The Orbitsound M9 also boasts Bluetooth streaming, so you can play tunes straight from a computer, smartphone or tablet. Pair units by holding down the dedicated Bluetooth button on top of the unit and searching for the Orbitsound on your device – it’s a simple procedure.

Orbitsound M9

There’s a credit-card-sized remote control that comes as part of the package. It’s a shiny, neat little unit with buttons for volume, treble, bass and input selection. When using the Bluetooth connection, you can also control playback from your device using the Orbitsound’s wand, which gives a smidgen of extra flexibility.

It would have been nice to have a display on the front to show the input/mode currently in use. There are telltale lights on the top of the unit, but you need to be very close to see which one is lit.

Orbitsound M9 review: performance

The fact this soundbar can’t decode Dolby Digital or DTS movie soundtracks is a shame, but this doesn’t detract too much from the system’s sound quality. The more we listened to the Orbitsound M9 the more we enjoyed its fun, inoffensive sound.

The subwoofer integrates particularly well with the main speaker and if it does sound a little overpowering or disjointed this can be dialed out using the sub’s separate volume control.

Spin some music over Bluetooth or through the auxiliary input and the speakers display a fine sense of rhythm and timing. Rihanna’s Don’t Stop the Music flows with pace and a decent sense of panache.

Compared with others in this company, bass notes sound agile and reasonably weighty and well-defined.

Orbitsound M9

Feed the M9 a movie soundtrack and the on-screen action sounds clear even if the size limitations of the main speaker mean it doesn’t have quite the dynamic thrust of the class-leading systems.

During Bond’s last stand at Skyfall, the Orbitsound M9 delivers gunfire with gusto without really ever losing its shape. Effects are spread for the listener without sounding too stretched or detached.

Orbitsound M9 review: verdict

Given its size, the Orbitsound M9 soundbar is a really impressive performer and well worth a punt.

MORE: Best soundbars to buy in 2014

 

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